BIRDS DO IT, BEES DO IT
10 August 2003
Tonight we are going to see "The Laramie Project," put on by a local young
people's theatre. The play, based on interviews done with more than 200 residents of
Laramie, Wyoming following Matthew Shepard's death, is a powerful piece of theatre which
has become "the" thing for high schools to produce. It has caused a furor in
some places when its upcoming production is announced.
In truth, the play takes neither a positive nor a negative stand on homosexuality. The
script is almost entirely taken verbatim from interviews and it depicts the townspeople
and their reaction to Matthew's death. Some people are extremely sympathetic to Matthew;
others are obviously fearful and angry that there has been such an uproar over the murder
and quite vocal in their condemnation of homosexuality.
That the piece has evoked such hatred among people who have never even seen it speaks
volumes about the need for such a play.
It is a deeply moving statement about bigotry and tolerance, fear and courage, hate and
hope. It is the sort of play that everyone should see, no matter what the feelings are
about homosexuality. (I would encourage people to rent the HBO version, which is
Homosexuality is coming out of the closet big time and it's hard to imagine that there
will come a time again when gay people will have to hide away for fear of reprisals simply
for daring to love--or have attractions. At least I hope that's the direction in which
A look at the TV line-up for fall shows how casually the existence of gay people in
communities is starting to be taken. "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is an
engaging piece of reality television with five guys trying to help a straight guy clean up
his act and become more appealing to the woman of his choice. I've only seen one week's
episode, but I found it sweet how hard the gay guys worked and the friendship that
developed with the straight guys they were trying to help (and how well the project
I haven't seen (and don't intend to watch) "Boy Meets Boy," because I haven't
seen any of those mating reality shows and have no desire to, but the fact that it
is even on is again another step in the acknowledgement that gay people are here to stay.
On the line-up for fall is "It's All Relative" about a gay couple raising
their daughter, who just got herself engaged to the son of a very Irish Catholic Bostonian
bartender. I really, really hope that this show has good writers. It could be the chance
to show the normalcy of a gay couple raising a child. I hope they don't go for the
broad laughs and make the realtionship into a caricature (which often "Will and
Grace" is, unfortunately.)
But reality TV is sometimes scary. Watching the president of the United States express
his religious views on same sex marriage and promise to look into having the law codified
to continue discrimination against American citizens is scary.
Watching the religion which has given millions of dollars in hush money to the victims
of pedophilia and which has hidden pedophiles behind its skirts for decades suddenly
trying to influence political leaders to vote according to its religious beliefs is scary.
(Remember the furor when Kennedy was running for office--fear that the decisions would be
made by the Vatican instead of the president--and how Kennedy assured us that would never
happen? And now that's what the Vatican is attempting to have happen on a global scale!)
Watching the scare tactic used to block the appointment of a gay bishop is scary. (Did
you read the follow-up on the "inappropriate behavior" Rev. Gene Robinson was
supposed to have engaged in? He touched his accuser on the arm and on the back when having
a conversation with him several years ago! Is any physical contact with someone of the
same sex, no matter how trivial, now to be considered "inappropriate
The ignorance of people is scary. Governor Gray Davis, in a moment when he wasn't
having to fight for his political life, did the right thing and signed a bill which would
ban discrimination against transgendered people.
In interview, someone who is upset about the passage of the bill pointed out that
passing a bill like this would "just encourage people to try it."
Walt had the best comment--"Hey that sounds cool! I think I'll spend thousands of
dollars on therapy and drugs and then I'll go have my penis cut off!"
How stupid can people be?
Homosexuality has been documented by American biologist Bruce Bagemihl as having been
observed in more than 450 animal species ("Biological Exuberance--Animal
Homosexuality"). Who knows what makes a flamingo, a penguin, a chimpanzee...or a
human being gay? When you think of the complexity of creation it's amazing that there is
as much uniformity as we see.
But what difference does it make? There was a time when the idea of people of different
races together was a threat to the moral fiber of this country, when people turned away in
disgust and when there were legal ramifications if two people of different races pursued a
relationship. In 1922, a Virginia law said that if a black person married a white person,
the punishment was five years in prison.
We've come a long way baby. I watched "Monsters Ball" last night, watching
Billy Bob Thornton make love to Halle Barry and realized that not only was there no big
to-do made of it, but Barry won an Oscar for her role.
It is my hope that in my lifetime I will see the same casual attitude regarding same
gender relations that we now see for mixed race relations. I have a dream that one day the
gay couple living next door will enjoy the same rights that their straight neighbors enjoy
(not special rights, but equal rights). That children are placed for
adoption based on who can give the child the most loving home, not on any other factor.
And I hope that elected politicians will make their decisions based on the will of
those who elected them to office, not on the demands of religious leaders who are trying
to impose their beliefs on those who are not of their faith.
(And while I'm dreaming, I might as well add that I hope that someday the Catholic
church hierarchy will spend as much energy ferreting out the molesters in their ranks and
seeing that they are prosecuted and that no child is ever molested by another Catholic
priest as they now spend trying to prevent consenting adults from being granted equal
protection under the law.)